Hours before the first soccer players were set to take the pitch wearing armbands in support of the “One Love” campaign the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) warned the they would automatically be shown yellow cards—a warning against a penalty that could determine the outcome of the match—forcing several European teams to back down on their plan.
The standoff was the latest dispute threatening to overshadow play at the international soccer event. Since being named to host the World Cup back in 2010, conservative Muslim Qatar been criticized and faced calls for boycotts over its treatment of low-paid migrant workers as well as its criminalization of homosexuality.
The captains of seven European nations had vowed to wear armbands carrying the heart-shaped multi-colored logo of the “One Love” campaign. It promotes inclusion and diversity in soccer and society. But ultimately the teams chose not to risk their success on the soccer pitch.
“As national federations we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings,” the seven soccer federations said in a joint statement.